Saturday, July 23, 2011

4 men, 2 women

Friday on The Diane Rehm Show, the first hour was Naftali Bendavid, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Reid Wilson. The second hour was Moises Naim, Elisabeth Bumiller and Tom Gjelten. And those were two of the most boring hours of my life.

As a lot of you are e-mailing, I haven't Facebooked. I just don't have time. I'm about to go do some right now.

Work is crazy. Life is busy. I know you know the drill because I know you're all putting up with the same stuff too.

Anyway let me post this.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, July 22, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Roy Gutman advocates for the US military to stay in Iraq (will McClatchy speak to him of perceived conflicts of interests?), Raed Jarrar exhibits a new form of crazy, Justin Raimondo calls out a faux peace member, Iraqis take to the streets, and more.
Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with journalist Patrick Cockburn about the propaganda on the Libyan War. Flashpoints Radio airs live on KPFA from 5:00 to 6:00 pm PST, Monday through Friday. Excerpt.
Kevin Pina: Patrick recently wrote an article called "Remember the Kuwaiti Incubators! Those Libyan Atrocities: Do They Really Stand Up?" which was seen on Patrick Cockburn, welcome to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.
Patrick Cockburn: Thank you.
Kevin Pina: Patrick, obviously we've seen a lot of propaganda, what people would consider propaganda -- what people would consider propaganda -- around the invasion, the NATO attacks on Libya, everything short of an invasion of ground forces at this point. But now of course in the last week we heard that Gaddafi had to go and just two days ago we've heard a complete reversal by France and now seemingly the United States and the United Kingdom seem to be softening their positions as well. How do we make sense out of all of this?
Patrick Cockburn: Well I think it's easy enough to understand when they started the air war in Libya, they thought Gaddafi would go almost immediately and he's still there months later. So it's really the consequence of failure.
Kevin Pina: Well failure but they seem to have been very successful in terms of pulling the wool over a lot of people's eyes. People thought, you know, that Gaddafi was the Great Satan again and the United States was involved in yet another Holy War to unseat a dictator -- and the United Kingdom as well.
Patrick Cockburn: Yeah, I find it pretty amazing after the experience we've had in Iraq and Afghanistan that the propaganda and the acceptance of propaganda has in many ways been worse. I mean initially this was presented -- the armed intervention -- by Britian, France, the United States and some others -- was presented as purely humanitarian venture. This was to keep Libyans alive. And then this very rapidly transmuted into regime change to getting rid of Gaddafi. And systematically throughout atrocities have been exaggerated. You know, you'll remember the mass rape story that Gaddafi's forces had been told to rape and been given viagra to encourage them? Well this story was on CNN, it was elsewhere, people were shocked by it, I think it was even mentioned by Obama, but this has been investigated very carefully by Amnesty International, by Human Rights Watch in New York who had their people in Libya and they found that there was absolutely no evidence for it. Another story was that mercenaries were being used from the rest of Africa. Again it turned out when that was investigated that people being presented on TV as mercenaries from other parts of Africa were in fact undocumented migrant laborers. [. . .] the people who appeared on television, were later in fact released because whatever they were, they weren't mercenaries. So these propaganda stories appear on television, appear in the media and to a greater degree even when they're wrong, they're never refuted, even when it emerges there's no evidence for them.
Another segment started off promising . . .
Kevin Pina: And next we're going to take a look at the human rights situation in Iraq. After all, what on earth did we fight this war for, what have we spent all of this money for on the war in Iraq if not to bring better government and "democracy" to the Iraqi people? Unfortunately what we're hearing is that the government that has replaced -- the US installed government -- is equally as oppressive as the so-called dictator Saddam Hussein who we released them from. Let's go to this clip from Al Jazzera to set this piece up.
Rawya Rageh: 19-year-old Aya Mohammed has seen it all. Her entire family was killed in an uprising against Saddam Hussein soon after she was born and she recently fled from an abusive foster family. Now after joining Iraq's protest movement, Aya and seven other colleagues were sexually harassed and beaten while protesting in Baghdad's Tahrir Square last month.
Aya Mohammed: Pro-government supporters started calling us "whores" and "prostitutes." Then they began molesting and groping us. Five men restrained me and tried to rip my clothes off. When I approached security forces bleeding and with a broken tooth, asking for help, they said its not their responsibility.
Rawya Rageh: Angered by the attack, activists have waged a campaign demanding an apology from the government. Those who assaulted them, they maintain, were members of the security forces. Street molestation is not common in tribal Iraq and until now women campaigners had not been specifically targeted.
Yana Mohammed (Women's Freedom In Iraq): For the first time this happens in Iraq. We have never heard of it. And at this moment, we are telling the society and especially those in the Green Zone that this is an era of women. They cannot lock us into our houses.
Rawya Rageh: In a report on the June 10th assault against both male and female protesters, Human Rights Watch said Iraqi soldiers not only stood by while Iraqi protesters were attacked but also that some of those abusing the demonstrators were carrying police identification badges.
Joe Stork (Human Rights Watch): It's not every day that thugs with clubs flash their police i.d.s at us. The government needs to find out who was responsible for the assaults and punish them appropriately.
Rawya Rageh: Al Jazeera has requested comment from Baghdad Operations Command but we did not get a response. Not a surprise say activists. The sexual assaults on female protesters is symptomatic of a much bigger problem in Iraq, they say. Writer and radio host Ahlam Al Obeidi was also beaten up in the protests. She says women's rights are being flouted all around the new Iraq -- even in Parliament.
Ahlam Al Obeidi: I asked Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, why make claims about freedom and democracy when women are being attacked on every corner? Why claim there's any change when it's for the worse?
Rawya Rageh: She's calling for an open-ended sit-in in the heart of the capitol until the government investigates the attack against them. Rawya Rageh, Al Jazeera, Baghdad.
But after the above, the segment quickly went to Crazy Town. Raed Jarrar's newest lie/fantasy is that reporting on the above, as Rawya Rageh did, is done to argue that the US should stay. Jar-Jar: "These attempts to bring up the crimes of the Iraqi government in the last few weeks are not really about exposing the crimes of the Iraqi government, they are more about justifying a longer US occupation."
Raed is a DUMB ASS.
And that needs to be said because he's now introducing a whole new level of CRAZY into the conversation. As I said in 2008 and 2009 and 2010 and this year, the SOFA didn't mean the Iraq War ended and liars like Raed Jarrar were prolonging the war by LYING and telling people the SOFA meant the end of the war.
And as Dona told Raed at one point when he tried to back peddle on the damage he was doing, Take the damn counter off your site! He has a counter -- it's probably still there -- announcing X Days until the Iraq War is over -- based on the SOFA. He's a stupid, stupid idiot who has done untold damage.
And although he's now apparently an American citizen, he pisses on the Constitution as much Bush and Barack. The SOFA is a treaty. It's an illegal one because it violated the Constitution by refusing to get the advice and consent of the Senate -- this was all established in Congressional hearings in 2008. After Barack's in office, Raed bores the hell out of me and anyone else he can bother by insisting he's doing 'serious' work, he's meeting with House members to get them to sign on to the SOFA. What? Yeah, he wants them to sign off on and support a violation of the Constitution. If that ass took a citizenship test, the United States needs to revamp the citizenship test.
I noted Raed in passing last week when Kevin Pina felt the need to have him on the show. I didn't say anything negative and hoped that since it's been demonstrated HE WAS WRONG ABOUT THE SOFA, he'd have a little humility. But that didn't happen obviously. Now he wants to unleash more CRAZY on this country and Iraq.
His idiotic claim that Rawya or anyone else is reporting on violence to keep US forces on the ground in Iraq? That it's a media plot?
I think he means US media so he'd have to leave out Rawya but if you leave out Al Jazeera, you lose a significant portion of the English language coverage from Iraq. But let's set Rawya to the side. This vast conspiracy? If it existed it would make my days a lot easier. I wouldn't have to repeatedly, in one group after another, explain what happens to Iraqi protesters. Now who's been reporting on that, Raed? Not really the Los Angeles Times. Not really the New York Times. Not really McClatchy Newspapers. The Washington Post did report on it.
If it were a conspiracy, don't you think they all would have? Do you really think that when Iraqi reporters were attacked on February 25th that the New York Times would have been turning in the embarrassing 'some say, Nouri says' piece if they were trying to say "IRAQ'S SENDING OUT AN S.O.S. TO THE WORLD!"?
It must be 'freeing' to do none of the work required to make a charge. You don't have to read the coverage, you don't have to be familiar with it, you don't have to be able to support anything you say, you just blindly make your charge.
Reality: While Raed's beat his little pud in public and insisted "Barack's ending the Iraq War 'cause he's so dreamy and sexy!!" for the last three years, some of us have been calling attention to the realities in Iraq. Raed didn't do a damn thing to draw attention to the attacks on Iraq's LGBT community. Raed hasn't done a damn thing to note the massacres of the Camp Ashraf residents. Despite working with a group that pretends it's a religious group (to be a group of Christians, you have to believe in Christ -- that's non- negotiable, that is the very definition of Christian), Raed's done nothing as Iraqi Christians were targeted.
He can tell us how groovy Barack is. He can tell us what it's like to dream and drool of Barack all night and wake up with his wang stuck to the sheets, but he can't do a damn thing about Iraq. I'm not in the damn mood. I was prepared to let it all just slide by and act as if none of it ever happened. But that was dependent on Raed, at the very least, not starting another harmful wave. But he's doing it again. He's lying and going to Crazy Town. He's trying to start this fear tactic which will mean no one will talk about what bad things in Iraq "because Raed says it's a media conspiracy to keep US troops there!"
I don't have time for his Crazy and Iraq can't afford his crazy.
As he trashed the 'vast media' for their conspiracy to keep the troops in Iraq, he never showed the slightest clue of how little Iraq coverage there actually is. US? There is AP, there is McClatchy, there is the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Time magazine and CNN. That is it. NPR doesn't have a reporter permantently in Iraq. Kelly McEvers is pulled out anytime something might be happening elsewhere in the Arab world and sent there.
For Raed to suggest -- as he did -- that Ned Parker is part of some vast conspiracy is just deplorable. In fairness to Raed, he didn't name Ned. Because he doesn't know who the hell Ned is. But he does know that a report was just done on the secret prison. That was Ned Parker's report. And, no, he didn't write it because he wants US troops to stay in Iraq or because he wants them to leave Iraq or because he wants to do a Zodiac chart reading on each of them. He reported on the issue because it's news and because it's the issue he's been reporting on forever. And before he was zooming in on the secret prisons? He was reporting on the realities of the Ministry of the Interior (the third and fifth floor especially) which is of course related to the current scandals. But Raed couldn't tell you that either.
But he can go on the radio and insult Ned Parker's nonstop work on this issue and suggest that Ned Parker has just reported on the secret prison for the first time and did so only because Ned Parker wants to keep US troops in Iraq. That's not only insulting to the fine work Ned Parker's consistently done, it's damaging and we can't afford the damage from Raed again.
Repeating, the know-nothing began (WRONGLY) insisting publicly at the end of 2008 that the Iraq War would be over in 2011 due to the SOFA. Come December 31, 2011, all US troops would leave Iraq. They had to, he insisted, it was in the SOFA.
As I said at one point when I was pissed, when you can -- as I have -- break a multi-million dollar contract with a corporation and walk away without being sued, then you come talk to me about contract law. Until then, sit your tired ass down. And for bonus points, let's see you, as I did, walk away with the money the contract promised you.
Raed didn't know what he was talking about then, he doesn't know what he's talking about now. But he's laying down the party line: PANHANDLE MEDIA SHALL NOT REPORT ANY BAD THINGS HAPPENING IN IRAQ BECAUSE TO DO SO IS TO TAKE PART IN THE MEDIA CONSPIRACY TO KEEP U.S. TROOPS IN IRAQ. Fools believed Raed last time, I'm sure many a fool will this time as well. But the ones they're hurting are the Iraqi people. Iraqis who have the guts to protest despite all the obstacles, Iraqis who speak out about the repression under Nouri (aka Little Saddam) need to be heard. They're not as lucky as Raed, they can't run -- with their tail between their legs -- back to the US. You got a serious charge, go into it, establish it. I'll show you how.
Scott Horton: Sounds like it's been a rough time over there in Iraq. You had some reports from a couple of weeks ago about the bombings there. But I think first I'd like to ask you in the context of the recent violence in Iraq, if you could verify that I read it right, that they sort of have made a deal where the Americans have agreed, they're not asking to keep combat troops in the country anymore, just trainers, and that that's basically the loophole in the Status Of Forces Agreement that's going to keep troops in Iraq, that both sides are happy with that and the deal has been made? Do I read that right?
Roy Gutman: I have to be honest, I am not up with the very latest thing of the last 48 hours simply because I've been traveling. There was that possibility though, I know, to have trainers stay on. I think it's inadequate. I think that forces are needed for other purposes and that one should not be satisifed with trainers. That said, my visits to US bases and talks with Iraqis, as well as with Americans, leads me to think that American training is very much prized by the Iraqis and I think the American military really feels it's doing the right thing by carrying on with training. So if that is the deal, it's only partially what needs to be done but it is certainly a very important component.
Scott Horton: Well I guess my question would be is the Parliament representative of the people of the country enough that Maliki and the current government represent the power that would rule Baghdad, would be in charge of the country if America wasn't there helping them or not because if so, it seems like, why would they need American troops, you know?
Roy Gutman: Well, you know, they've had elections. It was in March of last year. A government emerged from that election but it took all of last year. And it is not yet a completed government yet because there is a lot of wrangling at the very top between Maliki and Ayad Allawi who is the other leading politician who actually won more seats than Maliki's coalition but in fact not enough to actually have a majority. So that Parliament is a representative Parliament. No one that I know of has indicated that that election was anything but a real, genuine, fair election and with a minimum of corruption and fraud. So, yes, that's a real Parliament. But now,here's the problem Scott, you get a real Parliament elected with a lot of factions involved and it is very tough to get a bill through that Parliament. Well, look at our Congress, I mean, if you want to look at the debt debate right now. Not an easy thing to get real things done. Why do they need Americans to stay on? Basically it's because the Iraqi army, there was an Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein and it had some very professional officers but on the whole the army was tained by some of the things they did, you know, the use of gas against the Kurds, some of the firing of missiles into Iran, a lot of the things. So the whole officer corps was really tainted by it. with some exceptions. And then the Americans basically dissolved their military. So you have a new institution being created there and it is not easy, it is not fast. And they're training, as I've had it explained to me, was never anything like the kind of training Americans do. They're in a dangerous neighborhood and they recognize that they're not up to speed.
Scott Horton: So this isn't -- you would say then if I understand you right that it's not that the Iraqi army needs the American forces there to keep them as the Iraqi army to prevent internal dissent from taking their power away simply that power is natural enough to them. What they need is specialized training so they can keep other countries from messing with them. Is that what you're saying?
Roy Gutman: Uh - uh, that's right in a nutshell.
Roy continues, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about especially when he's starts talking 'internal' and 'insurgents.' I've heard what he's describing before. I heard it in 2008 from Joe Biden but Joe knows a thing or two and what Joe was pointing out was that doing this would be CHOOSING SIDES. Roy Gutman has no awareness of that.
And I want to know how Roy Gutman gets to continue to cover Iraq? He shouldn't be allowed to cover Iraq. There are reporters who offered the opposite side of Gutman and were punished. But now every one reading Roy's filings from Iraq knows that Roy feels the US needs to stay in Iraq. How is that shaping his coverage?
Some may insist Roy can be objective. Were it true, that's not the standard. The standard is do your actions provide cause for anyone to question your objectivity?
And the political situation in Iraq is always up in the air. So how does McClatchy justify Roy Gutman's labeling Ayad Allawi "feckless and inept" and "no where near as impressive as Maliki's been"?
And how do you reconcile the praise for Nouri with his secret prisons -- Oh, wait. Roy Gutman never reports on that. Roy Gutman never reports anything uncomfortable for Nouri. Possibly we now know why.
With the interview alone, I've raised questions and documented why. We could do Roy's entire Iraq file. We could do all of his remarks. We could drop back to last year -- want to? -- when Ava and I pointed out his embarrassing appearance on The Diane Rehm Show in June of 2010. From "Media: Let's Kill Helen!"
On things worth hearing, Iraq did surface briefly and accidentally on Diane Rehms's show Friday. Yochi's usual and expected attacks on Iran resulted in Ashraf calling in to correct Yohci's incessant lies. In the process, Ashraf declared, "I think that, for all the reporters, they should be more responsible because what happened in Iraq was because of the reporters. Misinformation and stirring just to get the rage up. "
You just knew Yochi wasn't having any of it. He stopped digging around his asshole with his own tongue long enough to exclaim, "I think all of us who work for a somewhat beleaguered industry would wish that the media was as powerful as to have caused a war. [Roy Gutman is heard guffawing if you listen closely. Shame on him.] There were deep flaws in the reporting pre-war in Iraq. To say that the media caused the war is, I think, a stretch."
First off, Yochi, the economy sucks for nearly everyone, it's a recession, you idiot. Second, the media lied, the media is responsible for helping Bush sell the illegal war. That Roy Gutman's fat ass could be heard chortling on air was disgusting since Roy worked for Knight-Ridder which was the only outlet that refused to play megaphone and actually and consistently do reporting. Shame on you, Roy Gutman. You damn well know better.

Roy of course tried to lie his way out of the above. Insisting that wasn't him laughing (it was him, you can hear it yourself, it was also confirmed that it was him by Diane's staff). (For more chuckles on Roy, see Mike's post here -- killer line "You sort of get the impression that Roy Gutman's spent the last decades covering socials and tea rooms.")
McClatchy's position is not Roy's laughter. McClatchy's official position was represented in the debut of Bill Moyers Journal, "Buying The War" and provided by Warren P. Strobel, Jonathan S. Landay and John Walcott.
Roy rejects that view. Roy goes on the radio with Scott Horton and 'explains' that the US military must stay in Iraq -- a decision that supposedly hasn't been made yet. Readers desperate for independent and unbiased state of Iraq coverage to form their own opinions can still have faith in Roy Gutman's call? I don't think so.
This is the same Roy Gutman, please remember, who made the most siginficant error you can make in print: DISTORTING THE WORDS OF ANOTHER. January 8th of this year -- and we called it out repeatedly -- Roy insisted that Moqtada al Sadr had "called on his followers Saturday to abandon the use of violence" but that's not what he said at all. And McClatchy never issued a correction. Not everyone got it wrong:

In his report of the speech, Jim Muir (BBC News -- video) observed that "he said the resistance goes on by whatever means and so on." (For a text report by Muir, click here.) Here's Aaron C. Davis (Washington Post): "His followers, he said, must continue to focus on fiercely resisting the United States, but perhaps also targeting their own government if it cannot restore services or security and hold to a timeline for a full U.S. military withdrawal by the end of 2011." Does that sound like the end of violence? No, it does not. And here's Ned Parker, Saad Fakhrildeen and Raheem Salman (Los Angeles Times):

Roy Gutman is a lousy reporter. (And incredibly touchy.) His statements to Scott Horton should get him pulled off Iraq coverage. This isn't debatable. He's not a columnist. He's supposed to be a reporter and the editor in Iraq of the moment. He crossed serious lines and we can document doing that over and over throughout his Iraq coverage.
Some might disagree with me. That's their right. And they may be right. But I didn't say, "Oh, there's this vast conspiracy and everytime you read bad news it's because they're trying to extend the US presence! Case closed!" I offered specific examples.
Roy Gutman advocated a position that no reporter's allowed to do unless they're doing particpatory reporting. His comments were out of line and he should be pulled from the beat. (He actually should be written up for what he said during that interview. He won't be. As Chris Hedges and others can tell you, you're only punished by your newspaper for personal opinions when they go against the Embrace of War.)
But let's address his nonsense which argues that the US must stay in Iraq as "trainers." They won't be "trainers" anymore than "combat operations" ended August 31, 2010. There was a time when Thomas E. Ricks was still a reporter and he would have had a good laugh over Roy Gutman's assertion that US military can be "trainers." (Ricks is for continuing the war, I am only noting that Ricks wouldn't have gone along with that nonsense in his hey day.)
"Combat operations" ended, Barack proclaimed months ago. But in today's news cycle,
Alsumaria TV reports, "Iraq's Ahrar bloc member Youssef Attai accused US Forces of carrying out intensified patrols in residential neighborhoods in Diwaniya and arresting citizens without the knowledge of the local government, a source told Alsumaria." Alsumaria TV notes, "US Forces increased military patrols in the regions surrounding its military bases in Babel, Diwaniya and Waset, the US military said. These measures aim to protect US military bases in these regions and around Iraq against attacks by Iran-supported groups, the US military noted."
But Gut Man wants you to believe they can just be "trainers." Trainers with guns. Trainers with the right to defend themselves. Trainers who will do police operations throughout Iraq.
Reality, the US can't afford to keep forces over in Iraq. Ask the American people about the spiraling debt and they say: END THE WARS. Reality, the US can't stay in Iraq forty years to keep Nouri in office until he gets his golden parachute (or bullet to the head -- the latter being far more likely). They had eight years. That was way too many. They're an installed regime that most likely cannot stand its own and it is for that reason that they want the US to stay. It is for that reason that they are (again) asking the US to choose sides in a civil war.
They've had 8 years. This regime is incapable of learning anything other than learned helplessness. It is not the responsibilty of the US to train or WEEN Nouri's regime and it is not worth one US life. Enough US blood has been spilled for that illegal war that didn't bring democracy but damn well put a despot in charge and looks the other way now as he becomes more and more the New Saddam. And I can go out on a libm and say that because it's not much of a limb. Even if Barack's re-elected, there are people will be leaving his administration and making similar points when they do -- for example, people who've always seen Nouri as a despot and won't have any reason to hold their tongue after they're out of the administration.
Roy Gutman's based his opinion (publicly) on Nouri needs this and Nouri needs that. But the reality is that actual independent organizations -- whether it's Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch or even the Carnegie Endowment for Peace -- have documented what Nouri's doing. It doesn't match up with the happy little spin Gut Man gave it.
And while Raed Jarrar thinks that the bad news out of Iraq will insist that the US stays, the reaction should be the complete opposite. Other than supress the Iraqi people, there's nothing left to be done by the US in Iraq. Staying means particpating in the harm of the people. Staying means endorsing attacks -- physical attacks (beatings, kidnapping) -- on journalists who tell the truth that Nouri doesn't want them to. Staying means ignoring human right abuses (continuing to ignore them). The US-installed regime is one of the most corrupt in the world. Why do you think the oil-for-food money vanished? Why do you think Nouri tries to insist it was a US issue?
There has been and will be no progress. The Iraqi people are not represented by their government at all. Their government is made up of hand-picked politicans that got the US stamp of approval (even Moqtada had his usefulness when it came to scaring the Iraqis into submission), these exiles who left Iraq and only returned after the US invaded. They now rule over a people who grew up in Iraq, who lived in Iraq.
You wouldn't stand for that if it happened to you and, unlike Roy Gut Man, I don't look down on the Iraqi people, I don't dismiss this or insist that it is the "political elites and the military elites" of Iraq that we need to listen to.
There has been no progress. There will be no progress. And if Barack's re-elected and he keeps the US military in Iraq, look for him to kick Samantha Power out of his inner circle by 2013 because even he won't be able to pretend she's got wisdom that long. She's selling her usual crap and insisting it's "humanitarian intervention" and that it just needs a little more of that to kick start the whole democracy "bloom" (her term) in Iraq. It is not happening. No roots of democracy can be planted by installing thugs to rule a nation.
Because he's a coward, Raed Jarrar invents a media conspiracy instead of calling out Todd Gitlin. What he falsely accuses the media of (notice, Gutman's advocating for the US to stay, he's not, however, saying "Oh the violence! The violence! The US must stay to end the violence!") is what Toad Gitlin did in his embarrassing piece of trash that justified the Libyan War and tried to provide cover to cop outs like himself. Naturally, when trash floats online it can be traced to Salon. We called it out Sunday. Medea Benjamin called it out Tuesday and, late last night, Justin Raimondo's definitive rebuttal went up. Excerpt.

The last person we need to hear from on the state of the antiwar movement is surely Todd Gitlin, the has-been "New" Left leader now a college professor of something-or-other. After all, it was none other than Gitlin, in the run up to the invasion of Iraq – and the biggest antiwar demonstrations since his own heyday – who took to the pages of Mother Jones magazine and criticized the antiwar movement for not "rebuking" Saddam Hussein. He was appalled at the signs at antiwar rallies calling for "No Sanctions" and "No Bombing." Sure, the sanctions were "a humanitarian disaster for the country's civilians," wrote Gitlin, but –echoing the claims made by Washington – he averred that the Iraqi government "bears some responsibility for that disaster." This was nonsensical back then, and it is even more so now that we know there never were any "weapons of mass destruction," as the US government claimed, and therefore no justification for the sanctions.

And what, pray tell, would an "antiwar" movement that refused to oppose bombing amount to, exactly? What universe is Gitlin living in? The same universe he's living in today – one in which a former antiwar "leader" has turned into a cheerleader for "liberal" imperialism of the sort practiced by his hero, Barack Obama. This is clear from the content of his latest screed, a tract purporting to explain why the antiwar movement is in the doldrums.

Medea's rebuttal included:
He [Todd] leaves out some other daggers to the heart of the movement: grass-roots election campaigns that lured away millions of activists; betrayals by the president and groups like MoveOn who used and abused the antiwar sentiment; craven congressional reps who violate the will of their constituents by continuing to fund war; powerful lobbyists for the war industry who wield enormous power in Washington; and the utter exhaustion that sets in after 10 years of standing up to the largest military complex the world has ever seen.
Raed just pretends like it never happened. While inventing a media conspiracy.
In the real world, Iraqis face enough real threats and don't need to practice 'creative visualization' in order to invent ones. Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh Tweets.
Rawya Rageh
RawyaRageh Rawya Rageh
The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "REAFFIRMATION OF IRAQ'S DIGNITY FRIDAY - Masses of people answering the call to attend the protests despite the fact that that there are a great many strictures and restrictions and the presence of Haliki's hooligans in great numbers armed with clubs and knives as well as guns." They note that security forces in Baghdad are chasing photographers and "confiscating mobiles [cell phones] wherever they are seen!" And that "A short while ago the use of fire arms and bulllets by government forces in Tahrir to stop the burning of the Iranian flag." Revolution of Iraq notes that all but one entrance has been blocked and people are being prevented from bringing in water bottles and that protests are also taking place in Mutanabi. The Great Iraqi Revolution notes that Ramadi saw a large turnout as "the Albu Faraj Bridge close to the Speed Way" and that they burned the US and Iranian flags and that "The burning of the Iranian flag came in soldiarity with the Tahrir Youth who were stopped from burning the flag in Tahrir, today, and whose demonstrations and protests were suppressed today with live ammunition." And we'll again note Rawya Rageh.
Rawya Rageh
RawyaRageh Rawya Rageh
Violence was scattered across Iraq today. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports 2 people dead in a Baghdad bombing by a store selling alcohol and eight people injured. Reuters notes a Tarmiya bombing which injured six people, a Mosul mortar attack that injured an Iraqi solider, a Baquba checkpoint attack in which 4 police officers and 1 bystander were killed, a Mosul grenade attack injured one police officer, a Mosul armed clash resulted in 1 person dead and two more injured and a doctor was killed in Kirkuk. Lebanon's Daily Star reports 6 Iranian soldiers were "killed in clashes with Kurdish rebels on the boarder with Iraq".
Political Stalemate II continues. Al Mada cites an unnamed State Of Law official for the claim that there will be another meeting at Jalal Talabani's home ('the second in less than a month") in which an attempt will be made to resolve outstanding differences between the parties. Those outstanding differecnes would be the failure of Nouri al-Maliki to abide by the Erbil Agreement which ended Political Stalemate I (the nine month period after the March 7, 2010 elections) and allowed Nouri to remain prime minister. Nouri took what he wanted from the agreement but refused to otherwise follow it.

Those pinning big hopes on the upcoming Jalal House Party should be aware that the other house parties haven't solved anything. In addition, Alsumaria TV observes, "Al Iraqiya List threatens to give a no-confidence vote for Iraq's government and call for early elections in case national partnership fails to be achieved. State of Law Coalition MP Khaled Al Assadi on the other hand accused Al Iraqiya of trying to incite Sunnis under the pretext of political imbalance." Aswat al-Iraq reports that there are doubts that Iraqiya would follow through with a no confidence vote:

The Political Analyist, Issam al-Feily, told Aswat al-Iraq news agency that the pressures, exerted by some political blocs against others are part of a political pressure, confirming that "all political blocs are keen to stay in power and non-withdrawal from it."
"Al-Iraqiya Coalition had been counting highly on the so-called National Council for Strategic Policies (NCSP), because it wanted to achieve something practical from it in drawing Iraq's internal and foreign policies, and when it failed to form the NCSP, al-Iraqiya began to threaten to withdraw from the political process, because in case if it would be formed, it would affect the whole political arena, though it would lead in the end to undermine the current government, due to the existence of more than one party in it, and not the State of Law, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, alone," Faily said.

Aswat al-Iraq also notes, "Aswat al-Iraq: Al-Iraqiya Coalition, led by Iyad Allawi, has called on the Iraqi government to raise a complain at the UN Security Council, about Iranian violations of Iraq's water interests, according to a statement it issued on Thursday." Iran is a topic in Iraq these days for many reasons including the fact that it has entered northern Iraq to attack Kurds it sees as terrorists. Aswat al-Iraq reports of the CIA-backed Goran ("Change") political party in the KRG, "Opposition Kurdish Change Movement Spokesman said that the Iranian atrocities on the Iraqi borders in the Kurdish region are done with the approval of certain circles within the Kurdish authority."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

5 women, 1 man

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, July 21, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, Jalal Talabani prepares to host another house party, Political Stalemate II continues, US officials think discussions about the US military staying in Iraq could go on for months, and more.
Yesterday on Flashpoints (KPFA, Pacifica), guest host Kevin Pina spoke with Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya who has left Canada to report from Libya on the illegal war. Flashpoints Radio airs live on KPFA from 5:00 to 6:00 pm PST, Monday through Friday. Excerpt.
Kevin Pina: And now we are joined once again by our special correspondent Mahdi Nazemroaya direct from Tripoli, Libya. Mahdi, welcome back to Flashpoints on Pacifica Radio.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Thank you, Kevin, good to hear your voice again.
Kevin Pina: Well listen, overnight everything has changed. It wasn't but yesterday and two days ago that the Obama administration and France and the NATO coalition were saying 'No solution to this unless Muammar Gaddafi stepped down.' Today they've completely reversed their position and changed their tune. They're saying now that that is not a prerequisite to negotiating a deal. You actually called it on the ground yesterday.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Yes, yes, Kevin, I've seen the negotiators they've been sending. And to be very frank with you, there are journalists here who are acting in the position of feelers, let's say. The journalists here -- Okay, let me qualify what I'm going to say. One of the reasons I came to Libya was as a member of a fact finding mission for the current events in Libya. This is part of an international group. People came from all over including ex-Congress member Cynthia McKinney. People have come from all over western Europe, Africa, all over the world, Canada included. And studying the media has been a point of mine. My notebook was actually mysteriously disappeared, so my original documents disappeared in the Rixos Hotel which is where the international journalists stay. But I want to point out that a lot of the journalists are way far more than just journalists. They're here for other things like mapping social relationships. I even suspect they're trying to see how they can find Gaddafi and report it back to Brussels or Washington for assassination. Now going back to what --
Kevin Pina: Woah, woah, woah, Mahdi. That's a very serious allegation. You're saying that journalists there are actually acting as espionage agents for certain foreign governments.
Mahdi Nazemroaya: Yes, yes. I'm very serious about what I said. I believe even yesterday I told you that a German gentleman was kicked out for suspicion of spying. Like I'm being very cautious with my words here but he came here presenting himself as an expert on Depleted Uranium. He had no qualifications whatsoever. He came to the fact finding commission. He brought machinery with him that he claimed could find DU. It was right after the really strange bombings of the previous night which I said the bombing was not like before. And he was very eager to see the weapons used and if any weapons remained. And he insisted on going to the sites. And how they caught him was he made some stories that didn't follow through. Yes, I'm dead serious about this. The media center has been watching journalists. They're been journalists who've applied to come here with fake passports. I haven't seen these obviously but I've been told that passport pictures are not even proper. They've looked up some of these journalists' backgrounds. It does not even concur with the nationality or the place of birth they've presented. So, yes, I'm saying that they sent spies. Whether you want to say CNN, Sky News -- The mainstream media's here far more than just to cover the news, they make the news. Number one, they make the news. They're not here to report the news at all. So I'm going to emphasize that. They're here to make the news. They've sent [CNN's] Ivan Watson from their Istanbul bureau. I was at the fact finding commission when he came. And they sent Jomana Karadsheh [also CNN]. She's a producer based in Baghdad. Look, I'm going to point it out. She told us that she's Lebanese at the fact finding commission but her background says she's Jordanian. So she was dishonest right there. The questions they brought were not about finding facts, they were more like negotiating points. These people are here on a very ominous standing and it has to do with the fact that the Obama administration, Barack Hussein Obama, Hillary Clinton and NATO are on very weak footing. France's prime minister -- this is an official position when France's prime minister or president make these statements -- said Gaddafi could stay. They are in a very weak position and everybody in Libya and in Libyan capitol Tripoli on the Mediterranean Coast knows that full well.
Turning to Iraq, Ed O'Keefe and Aziz Alwan (Washington Post) report that Iraqi and American officials are both stating that the 'deadline' for informing the US that they want the US military to stay will not be kept. That deadline was Jalal Talabani's deadline. Set and announced by Talabani. Among the problems O'Keefe and Alwan state is that there is some speculation, on the American side, that "a request might not come until March." For those late to the party, the Status Of Forces Agreement extended the US military occupation of Iraq by three years -- unlike the UN mandates which had been used previously and only covered one year at a time. December 31st of this year, the SOFA (negotiated by the Bush administration) expires. If it is not extended it can be replaced with a new agreement or all US forces (except those protecting the sprawling US Embassy in Baghdad and the US consulates sprouting up all over Iraq) can leave.
The White House's primary plan is to reach an agreement and keep the US military in Iraq as is -- meaning under the Pentagon. The back-up plan is sliding them over to the State Dept and keeping them in that way. With Scott Horton (Antiwar Radio), John Glaser discussed the US military staying in Iraq. Excerpt:
John Glaser: Whatever sort of contingent forces remain in Iraq -- there surely will be some amount -- they're going to be in combatant capacity despite the denials of US officials that are saying right now they're going to be noncombat and so on and so forth. They will have to continue to fight against an insurgency whose main aim is to get them out of the country. There's no -- There's really no indication that the national security state in America will treat Iraq any differently than they've treated the many other countries which they continue to okay. Why would they treat it any differently than South Korea where we still have 50,000 some odd troops. There's just no indication that they would. And so we need to either come to grips with the fact that they will be there and they will continue fighting or -- I'm not really sure what the alternative is.
Scott Horton: Yeah, well, I'm already making bumper sticks that say: "End The Iraq War: Ron Paul 2012."
John Glaser: Right.
Scott Horton: Cause Obama sure ain't doing it.
John Glaser: No, absolutely not. I'm glad that Ron Paul is running again. I think he sort of invigoarted a d a distinct class of antiwar and I think he'll build on that this time around and we'll get some more colleagues in that endevaor.
We'll come back to withdrawal and the 'trainers' but they were talking about Ron Paul and yesterday Judy Woodrfuff conducted an interview with US House Rep Ron Paul (who is running for the GOP presidential nomination). Excerpt:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Let's go to some of the international issues you touched on very quickly. You want to bring troops home. What should the U.S. footprint be internationally? What is the U.S. role in the world?

REP. RON PAUL: Well, it should be a footprint of trade and friendship, as we were advised and as the Constitution permits. The footprint shouldn't be a military footprint. It shouldn't be -


REP. RON PAUL: The footprint we're leaving now - our drone missiles dropping bombs and killing innocent civilians, launched from the United States with computers. That's not the kind of footprint I want.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Afghanistan. How quickly would you bring the troops home?

REP. RON PAUL: As quick as the ships could get there. It's insane on what we're doing. And I'll tell you one thing about this business about the military: We just had a quarterly report, and they listed all the money that all the candidates got from the military. I got twice as much as all the other candidates put together on the Republican side, and even more than Obama got, which tells me that these troops want to come home as well because they know exactly what I'm talking about.

Roy Gutman (McClatchy Newspapers) reported earlier this week on Kirkuk, "Nowhere, Iraqi and U.S. officials say, is the argument for keeping American troops in Iraq past Dec. 31 stronger than in Kirkuk." He quotes stating the Governor of Kirkuk Najmeldeen Kereem, "The Iraqi security forces do not have the ability to secure Iraq's borders, its airspace or its sole seaport in Basra." The governor wants the US military to stay on.
While Kirkuk might want the US to stay on, supposedly the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq) will be keeping US troops. Al Rafidayn reports the Iraqi president gave an interview to China Central Television in which he explained that the Kurdistan region is planning to keep US forces. And what of outside the Kurdistan region? In the rest of Iraq? Well there are a few problems, Jalal explained. See Iraqi has trouble protecting itself. It can't, he declared, protect its own air space, the land or the sea. I'm confused, what does that leave? By air, land or sea. What else is there? How does that passage in the US Marines' Hymn go?
From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea

What else is there?
I guess we could go Wiccan and talk the four corners? Earth, Air, Water and Fire? So Jalal would be saying that Iraq has the capacity to protect the fire?
Who knows but it's pretty clear that if you're the president of the country and you're maintaining your forces can protect your country . . . except by land, air and water, you've just tossed out a huge "but" and, no, your forces can't protect your country. (Or, at least, you don't think they can.)

To keep the US military in Iraq, Jalal Talabani hid behind "trainers." That's the lie that the Iraqi government currently thinks it can trick the Iraqi people with. The US will remain in "a limited number" as "trainers." Strange. I don't see how "trainers" can protect your air space, or your waters, or your land. Al Sabaah also notes Talabani's non-stop use of "trainers." Phil Stewart (Reuters) notes, "Legal safeguards for U.S. troops could become a major stumbling block to any potential deal with Iraq to keep some American forces in the country beyond a year-end withdrawal deadline."
Nizar Latif (The National) reported at the end of last month that a number of Shi'ites were worried about a possible US departure and fear that civil war could return and they worry about the Mahdi militia of Moqtada al-Sadr: "Critics now worry that the militia, which supporters claim can call up 150,000 fighters will pick up weapons if a new security vacuum opens up when Iraq's army and police take over the departs." Moqtada al-Sadr made many threats to rain down fire and brimstone should the US military stay in Iraq. Then he announced he wouldn't oppose such a decision. NPR's Kelly McEvers (All
Things Considered) reported on the issue on yesterday. Excerpt:
KELLY McEVERS: This is the issue with Sadr's organization. Despite its new image as a political player, it still maintains a militant wing that stands ready to threaten or even fight its rivals. In the case of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the ostensible reason for keeping guns is to resist Israel. For Sadr, it's to resist the U.S. But what happens when the enemy occupier leaves? Here's Thanassis Cambanis again.
Professor THANASSIS. CAMBANIS: If the logic of resistance is what defines you as a movement, you're going to have a lot of trouble shifting to some other footing when the enemy you resist is gone.
McEVERS: That's why following the Hezbollah model too closely might eventually be Sadr's undoing, Cambanis says. Two decades after its civil war, Lebanon remains volatile and divided, and Hezbollah, he says, is losing credibility. In the short term, though, Cambanis says, as long as Iraq's weak and incomplete government remains unable to provide security and basic services, Muqtada al-Sadr will remain a reasonable alternative.
Staying on the topic of Moqtada al-Sadr, we have maintained that he would back down on his 'vow' to reform the Mahdi militia to attack US soldiers. The 'vow' (empty threat) was similar to ones he had made before and not followed through on and there was also the issue of hs long stay in Iran while he was supposedly a 'leader' to 'his people.' More and more US, European and Arab opinion (intelligence and diplomatic community) was that Moqtada had lost hold of 'his people' and was at a very weak point -- one similar to 2008 when the Bush administration elected to attack him (with Nouri joining in) and allow him to play 'dangerous rebel' and up his prestige and 'cred.' By remaining out of Iraq after being seen as strong (after the 2008 attack), he lost what he'd gained. That's what we based our opinion on.
Events have backed up that view. Gareth Porter has a different take on why Moqtada changed his mind. He explains it in his article "What Is Sadr's Game on Future US Troop Presence" (IPS via Dissident Voice) which we've noted twice this week. And he explained it in his conversation with Scott Horton (Antiwar Radio). We noted that interview twice this week. Read his piece but my summary of it is that Moqtada realized he will be the next prime minister and is now interested in perserving the system and not destroying it.
Gareth Porter could be correct. The opinion we've offered here could be completely wrong. But Gareth's opinion really doesn't make sense. And even Scott Horton seems to sense that as he returns to that topic (such as in the interview we noted earlier). It's possible that Moqtada had an about face on this because Jalal Talabani, who's been meeting with everyone, pointed out the details Gareth presents. And hearing that from Talabani, Moqtada did an about face. For Gareth's version to be correct, it appears to require someone points out to Moqtada all that 'will happen.' If Moqtada had come to the realization on his own, the sudden about face makes no sense.
So maybe something like that happened. Gareth could be correct. But I don't think it makes sense and I'm sticking with what we've argued for months. In that scenario, Moqtada has little to command because his refusal to keep 'skin in the game' by staying in Iraq, loosened his hold on his organization and all of its aspects. That hypothesis may be backed up by Moqtada's own remarks that he had to bring the Mahdi militia under control. This is again hit upon today in a report by Suadad al-Salhy (Reuters):
Anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army has spawned dozens of renegade splinter groups which frequently assassinate Iraqi officials on behalf of foreign sponsors, Sadrist and security officials say.
[. . .]
A popular Shi'ite cleric who leads the militia as well as his own political bloc, Sadr has repudiated the splinter groups, describing them as "murderers" and "criminals", and has called on Iraqi security forces and tribes to expel them.
"They have turned into mercenary groups which have no ideology or specific agenda. They are more like contract killers," said Major-General Hassan al-Baidhani, chief of staff for Baghdad's security operations command.
While Moqtada spent the last years in Iran, time did not stand still and common sense will tell you that if Ida is the leader but Ida's out of the county and Jose, Mia and Bill have to do all the wok in country -- including risking arrest, including risking death -- Jose, Mia and Bill aren't going to be thrilled when Ida pops back into the country three years later and expects everyone to listne to her. Moqtada can't run a 'revolution' by remote.
Gareth Porter may be right and I may be wrong. Wouldn't be the first or last time that I was wrong. But the yarn being told does not add up and that's why Scott Horton's trying to suss it out in his conversation with John Glaser. That's why he keeps returning to it trying to figure out what Moqtada is thinking. Because it doesn't add up.
Why the sudden turn around by Moqtada? In Gareth's version it's because Moqtada realized he would be the next prime minister in a couple of years and realized he couldn't afford to tear down the system he would command. Okay. Well why did Moqtada all the sudden realize that? Every step on the ladder begs another question because on the most basic level -- human nature -- it does not make sense. We've excerpted from Gareth's article and we included lengthy quotes on this from his conversation with Scott Horton. There's a link to his piece several paragraphs up. I'm not trying to distort what he's saying. But what he's saying doesn't currently make sense. It may be missing a step or it may be invalid. I don't know. But my opinion is that Moqtada lost control of his group -- and we've argued that repeatedly pointing to the low turnout for parades and Moqtada's sudden decision to turn a parade into a march by his armed supporters. Moqtada's own remarks appear to back up that he's lost control (but his remarks indicate also that he thinks he can take back control -- maybe he can).

At present, he really shouldn't matter but he continues to be a focus. Largely because he's a press created object -- like a bad actor who sleeps with his director to get that big break and gets the Vanity Fair cover and then, two to three years later, people ask, "What ever happened to . . ." and "What did anyone ever see in . . ." (For those playing guessing games, that actually describes two actors on the cover of Vanity Fair in the last two decades.) At some point, maybe an interviewer will ask him if he's still relevant? Who knows. But he's taken himself out of the conversation of should Iraq keeps US troops or not by his own statements.

Dar Addustour reports Jalal's got another house party planned. And that they will again discuss implementing the Erbil Agreement but that Iraqiya (led by Ayad Allawi) is making warning noises about what might happen if the agreement is not implemented (this agreement was signed off on in November and ended Political Stalemate I). Al Mada adds that Iraqiya is floating the prospect of a vote of no confidence in the current government. What does that mean? A call for early elections. The country is in Political Stalemate II and Reidar Visser (Carnegie Endowment) offers these thoughts on it:

When Iraqi politicians finally formed a new government in December 2010, nine months after the parliamentary elections, many voices in the international community were congratulatory. Observers emphasized that the Iraqis had managed to create an "inclusive government" in which all the different ethno-sectarian groups in the country were represented. Critics of the deal that led to the formation of the second government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pointed out that it simply papered over persisting conflicts among Iraqi politicians. It also produced an oversized, ineffective, and unstable government with lots of unnecessary, bogus ministries (including such portfolios as civil society and the southern marshlands), whereas ministries that were truly needed, especially relating to national security, remained unfilled.

Eight months on, it seems the critics got it right: the government remains incomplete and lacks key ministers for the interior and defense, whereas the strategic policy council (celebrated by the United States as a key power-sharing instrument of the government-formation deal) has yet to even be formed. Much of 2011 has been spent agreeing on three unnecessary deputies for the ceremonial presidential office (one of whom has already resigned), while progress on the debate between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad over oil exports has been limited to a pragmatic agreement to export from two fields -- and the pending parliamentary agreement on oil and gas laws still seems a long way off.
And yet we constantly hear half-truths and fantasies of 'progress' in Iraq. Sometimes 'progess' is nothing but a repeating PR stunt. Case in point, Al Sabaah reports that Iraq's Museum will be opening in the next three months. And there's a nice little picture of the museum. We do love it when the museum's 'opening' is in the news. Remember February 24, 2009:

"As for when the rest of Iraq will be able to see the museum, that's unclear. Iraqi guards Monday afternoon told journalists it would be a couple of months," notes the Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond (credited that way here and in the snapshot yesterday because no writer is named in the blog post). That's really the heart of the story. Yesterday, you had a limited, for-show opening. Sudarsan Raghavan and K.I. Ibrahim's "Six Years After Its Pillage, Iraqi Museum to Reopen" (Washington Post) reports puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki insists the 'opening' indicates an "embrace of democracy" -- embrace by who and of what by whom? Democracy for invited guests only?

It was an opening of sorts, a one-day opening. It's all smoke and mirrors to establish 'progress' in Iraq. If we all agree to be stupid or lie, we can be Ad Melkert and claim progress in Iraq (see yesterday's snapshot).
Iraqis who can't find their loved ones wouldn't argue 'progress' in Iraq. At the heart of the protests in Iraq has been the wives, mothers and daughers whose husbands, sons and fathers have disappeared into the Iraqi 'justice' system. Wednesday NPR's Isra' al Rubei'i and Kelly McEvers (Morning Edition) reported on the women who take part in the Baghdad protests. (And please note, the women can be found all over Iraq and have been protesting throughout Iraq since January.) They speak with Umm Haidar whose son Haider was taken away by US troops five years ago and she has searched for him ever since, "All I want to know is if my son is dead or alive."

McEvers notes the women say "we've searched the prisons and morgues" and that they come to Baghdad's Tahrir Square "as a last hope." Nouri did come up with a program to help these women back in February.
KELLY MCEVERS: Earlier this year, as uprisings around the region toppled some leaders and forced others to announce reforms, the Iraqi government said it would launch a new program to search for the missing. The plan was that the Iraqi Army would take requests from families at a battalion headquarters like this one. Then a joint civilian-military committee would search prison rosters, hospitals, and lists from newly discovered mass graves. At this station alone, some 600 families registered.
Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)
MCEVERS: This soldier, who doesn't want to give his name, worked on the new committee. He says the registration is now closed, and nothing has been done with the list of the missing. The soldier says the program was simply a way to placate anti-government protesters.
Unidentified Man: (Through translator) People who we received in the beginning, are coming now and asking us, what did you do? And we tell them, nothing. We couldn't find anyone.
A soldier states Nouri's 'plan' was "simply a way to placate" and to defuse the protests. That's 'progress'? The inability to name a Minister of National Security, a Minister of Defense or even a Minister of Interior all these months after becoming prime minister-designate is 'progress'? (Those posts were supposed to have been named within thirty days of Nouri being named prime minister-designate, per the Iraqi Constitution.)
As the security ministries remain without ministers to head them, as Political Stalemate II continues, violence has increased. Reuters notes today's violence includes 1 government employee being shot dead in Kirkuk, a Najaf bombing injuring three children, a Kirkuk roadside bombing claiming 1 life and leaving two more people injured, and, dropping back to last night, a Mosul grenade attack on an Iraqi military checkpoint which claimed the life of one soldier.
And ETAN gets the last word:

ETAN Urges Secretary Clinton to Condition Security Assistance to Indonesia on Rights

Contact: John M. Miller,,+1- 917-690-4391

July 20 - As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton travelled to Bali, the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN) urged her to condition U.S. security assistance to Indonesia on real improvements in human rights by Indonesia government and genuine accountability for violations of human rights.
"The restoration of assistance to Indonesia's notorious Kopassus special forces announced a year ago should be reversed," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of ETAN. "Kopassus training was meant to be the carrot to encourage respect for rights. There is no evidence it has done so. U.S. law bars cooperation with military and police units with such egregious human rights records. The U.S should set an example by following it's own law."
On the eve of Secretary Clinton's visit, ETAN issued the following statement:

In her February 2009 visit to Indonesia, Secretary of State Clinton praised democratic reforms since the fall of the U.S.-backed Suharto, saying "Indonesia has experienced a great transformation in the last 10 years." While Indonesia has made progress since the dark days of Suharto, crimes against humanity and other violations of human rights continue. U.S. policy has largely focused on narrow strategic and economic interests that have little to do with the well-being of the Indonesian people. Meanwhile, progress has stalled. Human rights remain under threat. The military continues to find ways to maintain its influence. The pleas of the victims of human rights crimes in Timor-Leste, Aceh, West Papua, and elsewhere in the archipelago are ignored. Senior figures responsible for the worst abuses prosper.

In recent years, the U.S. has provided substantial assistance to both the Indonesian military and police. This assistance is said to come with lessons on human rights. The human rights lessons are not being learned. People see the police as abusers, not protectors and military impunity prevails. Indonesia's security forces are learning is that U.S. will assist them no matter how they behave.

Over the past year, horrific videos and other reports of torture, the burning of villages and other crimes offer graphic proof that the people of West Papua and elsewhere continue to suffer at the hands of military and police. Soldiers prosecuted for these and other incidents receive light sentences. Just this past week, four civilians, a women and three children, were wounded when Indonesian troops shot into a hut in the Puncak Jaya area of Papua.

As many as 100 political prisoners remain jailed: prosecuted and jailed for the peaceful expression of opinion. In many regions, minority religious institutions are persecuted, often with the active or tacit assistance of local security officials. Vigilante groups, like the Islamic Defenders Front, seek to enforce their own extra-legal version of morality, again with the backing of officials. Journalists, human rights defenders and anti-corruption activists are threatened and occasionally killed. The organizers of the 2004 poisoning of Indonesia's most prominent human rights lawyer, Munir, remain free and seemingly above the law.

In recent years, the U.S. has provided substantial assistance to both the Indonesian military and police. This assistance is said to come with lessons on human rights. Lessons that are not being learned. People see the police as abusers, not protectors and military impunity prevails. Indonesia's security forces are learning is that U.S. will assist them no matter how they behave.

We urge the U.S. to condition its security assistance on an end to human rights violations and to impunity. The U.S. should heed the recommendation of Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in Timor-Leste (CAVR), which urged nations to "regulate military sales and cooperation with Indonesia more effectively and make such support totally conditional on progress towards full democratisation, the subordination of the military to the rule of law and civilian government, and strict adherence with international human rights, including respect for the right of self-determination." Indonesia does not yet meet this standard.

The U.S., as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, should work to establish an international tribunal to bring to justice the perpetrators of human rights crimes committed during Indonesia's 24-year occupation of Timor-Leste. This would provide a measure of justice to the victims and their families and serve as a deterrent to future human rights violators. A tribunal is supported by the many victims of these crimes and by human rights advocates in Timor-Leste, Indonesia, the U.S., and elsewhere.

Finally, we urge Secretary Clinton to apologize to the peoples of Indonesia and Timor-Leste for U.S. support for the Suharto dictatorship. Her visit offers the U.S. a chance to decisively break with past U.S. support for torture, disappearances, rape, invasion and illegal occupation, extrajudicial murder environmental devastation. Clinton should offer condolences to Suharto's many victims throughout the archipelago and support the prosecution of those responsible.

ETAN was founded in 1991 to advocate for self-determination for Indonesian-occupied Timor-Leste. Since the beginning, ETAN has worked to condition U.S. military assistance to Indonesia on respect for human rights and genuine reform. The U.S.-based organization continues to advocate for democracy, justice and human rights for Timor-Leste and Indonesia. For more information, see ETAN's web site: